Gov. John Bel Edwards announced at a press conference Tuesday that Louisiana will return to Phase 2 with modified restrictions after a surge of coronavirus cases across the state, according to The Advocate.
The move is less restrictive compared to the previous Phase 2, and is a reaction to hospitalization and case numbers rising above the national average.
Edwards said in his press conference announcing the changes that Louisiana is "in for a rough patch."
"Because of the trajectory we’ve been on... It is imperative we take action and we take action now,” Edwards said.
The new restrictions will go into effect Wednesday, the day before a Thanksgiving that many Louisiana officials worry will spread the virus more than usual as families and friends gather for in-person celebrations.
Under the new rules, gatherings will be limited to 75 indoors and 150 outdoors, or 25% occupancy at event spaces. Restaurants, retailers and other businesses will move from 75% to 50% occupancy. Bars in parishes with over 5% test positivity must close to indoor consumption unless they have a restaurant conditional permit, in which case they can operate at 50%.
Jefferson, Lafayette, Caddo and East Baton Rouge parishes have positivity higher than 5%, thus these parishes must close down bars that don’t serve food.
These businesses must adhere to a capacity of up to 50% with social distancing and mask mandates:
- Gyms and fitness centers
- Restaurants, coffee shops and cafes
- Casinos and video poker
- Non-essential retail
Louisiana has firmly entered the fall surge with weekly new cases soaring to north of 11,000 as of Tuesday, up 155% from the case total of the same period a month earlier.
“There are no magic tricks to be worked here. The only way you stop the surge is by these restrictions and mitigation measures,” Edwards said. “If somebody had presented me another option, a better option about flattening the curve, I would have taken it….It doesn’t exist.”